As you’ve probably heard, Facebook and Instagram will rely heavily on AI-curated content for creators in the future, and the News Tab project Facebook launched a few years ago doesn’t seem to be a big part of that. As reported by axios and Facebook’s parent company, Meta, is confirming previous rumors and telling publishers it no longer intends to pay for the content it has collected on the news tab.
According to the report, Meta spent approximately $105 million on three-year news content deals (plus another $90 million for news videos), including $10 million for the Wall Street Journal$20 million for the New York Times, and $3 million for CNN in schemes that sometimes include unlocked access to paywalled content. The Wall Street Journal previously reported that the rise of regulations forcing Facebook and other internet giants to pay for news caused the company’s waning enthusiasm, and today quoted a source as saying the paid news push was an “experiment that ultimately didn’t pay off.”
While the News tab itself will remain, you can read how it works here – the overall initiative follows podcasts, Novi cryptocurrency, the “Campus” reboot of classic Facebook, and the HouseParty clone Bonfire as projects that have come and gone over the years.
A statement from an unspecified Facebook spokesperson given to axios said: “A lot has changed since we signed deals three years ago to test whether additional news links were brought to Facebook News in the US. Most people don’t come to Facebook for news, and as a business it doesn’t make sense to spend too much to invest in areas that do not match the user’s preferences.”
The response to Instagram’s attempt at a TikTok impression — and its shocking retreat — shows that the definition of user preference can vary depending on who you ask, but it certainly doesn’t seem like there’s been a huge impact from the paid aggregation — Facebook’s push in the News Tab since its launch in 2019.
When Facebook introduced de News tab in 2019, it talked about the potential of a top daily story section “chosen by a team of journalists” that could avoid the pitfalls of other news feed adventures that sometimes promoted fake news, the instant articles that publishers did not or its infamous ‘pivot to video’. For me, it was just another section of Facebook that I visited once and never came back.